Self-defense has never been more important than it is right now. If you’ve always been conscious of how you should defend yourself in a variety of situations, you’re likely more aware of it now.

For those who haven’t thought about it much until now, you may want to start. It’s important for your own peace of mind that you’re prepared to handle whatever comes your way, especially in a world that seems to be unraveling so quickly.

Here are some excellent tips for how to defend yourself in turbulent times.

1. Always be aware.

Every time you leave the house, pay attention to where you are and what’s going on around you. If you need to, tuck your phone away in a place that you can reach if you need it. That way, if you need to call for help, it’s quick and easy.

Focus closely on every detail as you walk through a parking lot, down the street, or around a parking garage. You should always be aware of your surroundings so you are prepared for any situation.

Take note of car colors, the location of street lights, or specific movements that you see.

Being hyper-aware can also improve your memory and help you recall the situation better so you can describe it in detail later if you need to recount it to the authorities.

2. Get rid of distractions.

Putting your phone away is the first step. Scrolling through Facebook might be fun, but it won’t help you if you’re in danger.

You should reserve checking text messages and emails for when you’re safely in the car, at home, or at your desk at work.

Ladies – even digging in your purse for your chapstick is a momentary distraction that could translate to valuable seconds of protection.

3. Think twice before exercising outside.

A bit of fresh air in the morning does the body good, but do it very intentionally, especially if it’s still dark or there’s not a lot of activity on the street yet.

Running alone with music means you can’t hear what’s going on around you. Instead, opt for no music at all, or leave one earbud out with your music quiet enough to be aware of your surroundings.

This helps you achieve #2 so you can focus on #1.

4. Beware of parking lots or garages.

If you’re getting ready to walk to your car, no matter where you’ve parked, get your keys out before you head that way. You’ll need them when you get there, and they can be used as a weapon in the meantime.

If you’re being followed, it makes it that much easier to unlock your doors and quickly get in.

If you’re walking from your car to a store or into work, don’t put your keys away just yet, for all of the same reasons. It can easily be used as a weapon and you can tuck them away safely when you get to your destination.

Also, remember that you should never unlock your car until you’re within a few feet. You don’t want to give anyone time to get in while you can’t see them. If you’re alone, only hit the button once to unlock the driver’s door, giving no one an opportunity to crawl in the passenger’s side.

5. Speak up.

Loudly communicate your discomfort if someone invades your personal space. Not only could the noise cause a perpetrator to back away slightly, but it also communicates to other people who may be nearby that you potentially need help.

Use a firm, serious tone and tell them to back up or get out of your personal space. If they never intended to harm you, they’ll likely back up right away, because they were unaware that they were making you uncomfortable.

Alarming someone enough that they give up is also a plus. If they do keep coming, you’ve already set the tone that you intend to defend yourself, and you can legally do so now that they’ve communicated they intend to harm you.

6. Anything can be a weapon.

If you have attempted to warn your attacker and tried to run, but they still kept coming, use anything you have to defend yourself.

You can stab your attacker with your keys in an attempt to cause them to loosen their grip. You can also aim for the eyes, throat, or groin for a sensitive area that can disable them temporarily.

7. Protect your personal space.

Someone has to get close enough to you physically in order to attack. Not only can you use whatever you have as a weapon, but you can protect your personal space with anything available.

You can put a table or a chair in between you and your attacker, you can shut any doors that are between you, and you can position yourself far away so they can’t touch you.

Arm yourself in advance with a whistle, pepper spray, or a firearm.

8. Take a self-defense class.

Knowing the most vulnerable parts of the body is the first step, but you may also want to take a self-defense class or learn some martial arts tactics to get familiar with how to respond to a variety of situations.

9. Be confident.

Confident body language makes you a more intimidating target. Show that you’re not scared and you have no time for nonsense.

Stand upright with good posture and don’t shy away from making eye contact with people. If you look right at anyone who looks suspicious, it could make them think twice about attacking you. You’ll get a better look at them if you have to describe them later.

10. Trust your instincts.

You’ve been equipped with biological tools to keep yourself safe. When you have a bad feeling about a situation, you should trust it. Listen to your gut and avoid situations that you’re not comfortable with.

11. Take a gun safety class.

You can protect yourself very effectively if you carry a firearm. Do some research on gun safety courses or conceal carry training in your area. Many gun shops offer them. It will teach you how to carry and shoot.

You’ll also learn how to keep your gun clean and you can practice using it to get more comfortable with it.

Final Thoughts

Self-defense has a lot to do with your mindset and your awareness. It doesn’t always come down to carrying a weapon. You have to be conscious about avoiding dangerous situations, but if you find yourself in one, it’s smart to be prepared.

Always know where you are, who you’re with, and how you’re carrying yourself when you’re alone.